Tuesday

JA Konrath's Newbie's Guide To Publishing: My Amazon Review


The Newbie's Guide To Publishing is ideal for any new or recently published author trying to get material into print by publishers, agents and online. Joe, J.A., Konrath is a writer with over 500 rejections to his name, who wrote over a million words, before he finally got published (No secrets here--he tell the reader all about it). 

And published he did, with a popular crime thriller series featuring a divorced Detective Jaqueline Daniels, and his horror thriller books penned under Jack Kilborn. Joe Konrath from suburban Chicago began a publishing run that continues to swell in readers and books sold even today. He's published traditional hardcover and softcover (see the shelves at Barnes&Noble, Borders, etc.) and recently has published e-books to a burgeoning audience, with sales placing him routinely in the top Amazon e-sellers list. J.A. Konrath has now compiled years of his blog into this 1200 page tome about the publishing process. It is imperative reading for anyone wishing to become a profitable and successful author in the age of print and electronic media. Not only does Joe Konrath explain what makes a book sell, but he goes in depth with the "brass tacks" of the publishing industry, and teaches you how to manage your own writing career. This book has more "pearls" than a Mikimoto necklace. 

The topics range from how to set up a manuscript, fonts and styles, what paper to use, how to best enter contests, how to publish online, story length, selling short stories--the real "nuts and bolts" of writing that I literally could not find in any book. Joe goes on to discuss not only how to get an agent, but how your relationship should be with your publisher, agent, editor; what they expect of you, and what you should expect of them. How to promote your book, how to negotiate an advance, how to set up a book tour, what to expect from a book tour, giveaways from authors, how to deal with fans, etc... I have not ever read a book for authors that had the detail that is included in this very inexpensive e-book. And here's a nifty bonus--the e-book contains clickable links to online reader comments and online material (e.g. Joe Konrath's online marketing bio, as an example) for every chapter in this book. I can say, with honesty, that this is the best few dollars I have ever spent on a book for writers. 

The most brilliant part of this ebook is the candor with which Joe explains his struggles as a new writer, how he broke into the trade, and how he has grown his name brand to fulfill his life dream, now as a full-time writer. He tells precisely how the royalties for a book add up, how much is paid, how much a writer can make on ebook sales versus paperback and hardcover. He gives examples of writer's contracts and pitfalls of contracting, royalties, publishing rights, etc. He's a real "elbows on the table" guy that spits it all out for us all to digest and learn from his mistakes and triumphs. 

I have not had the pleasure of meeting JA Konrath, but someday I would love to pick his brain over a pint of ale, and explore all the knowledge he's garnered about publishing and being a successful writer. For now, this wonderful canon on writing and publishing will do. To say that it's comprehensive is an understatement. 

5 of 5 star rating for A Newbie's Guide to Publishing and J.A. Konrath.

Saturday

Stones Red Rooster

Tested The Marlin Spike Hitch At Riverbend Forest Preserve

It worked great on my Hennessey hammock, which has a fixed and integrated ridge line.  Notice that I used one for the tree strap, and a second for the Hennessy Ridge Line--no knots.  Thanks to Professor Hammock  on Youtube for showing me how to do this.  Had just 90 minutes to hike in, find trees (dead), and get it all done, then had to pick up my son and drive today.

Friday

Hanging With Camping Hammock, Fox Valley, IL


This is my Hennessy Hammock Backpacker Ultralight: Hammock, bugnet, suspension lines and tarp, all in one. This was an afternoon test setup in Wheeler Park, St. Charles, Illinois.

Tuesday

Happy Birthday To Me


An image I took with my Fuji earlier this summer, sepia converted at the excellent www.lunapic.com, of my favorite windmill. It's my birthday, a most glorious day to be alive.  Breathe in deeply.  If you read this and I am not present, it's because I have posted it over a month in advance, scheduled to come up on August 24.  I am with you in spirit every single day, my faithful readers--family and friends--wishing you grace and peace in your life.

'Mockin' In St. Charles Park In Front Of Onesti Dinner Theater

Monday

Fabyan Windmill, Geneva, Illinois




To bike along the paved path, trees suddenly clearing, and come upon the manicured lawn to this large windmill on the hill makes me gasp. It is so amazing. Breathtaking, really. Thank you for this fine video, basicbill1.

Sunday

UpRoar Festival, Chicago, IL



Enjoyed the first Uproar Festival with son yesterday. Listened to bands on the small stage, and sat at the top[ of the lawn with the setting sun, and then to our seats under the amphitheatre for the big bands, Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold. This video was the intro from last night for Avenged, with a teen hanging himself (not really). They were outstanding! Great day in Chicagoland.

The Old Stone And Ivy Wall At The Dam Pub, Geneva, IL

Wednesday

American Beauty: My Amazon Review

Outstanding look at suburban existence,new millenium style. Benning is glorious as the Martha Stewart-like, neglectful working mother who is more concerned about her prize roses than her misfiring family life. Spacey exemplifies a belated return to youth, relishing even his boyhood burger stand job as a counter-balance to the baloney-filled, useless telemarketing position from which he bribed his way out. The kids find dashing rebuke for the alientation of parents and society in their dreams of boiking men, running away, and filming dead people. Stellar performance by all involved, but particularly Thora Birch as a wayward, misunderstood teen who eventually falls for the "geek boy" next door, the only miscreant that can understand her. Deducted: one star. Reason: Mendes screenplay, just a tad too far left of true suburban life; the charasters are flawed beyond reality, making not one of them the redeemed soul that would have sparked a sense of believability to the film. Four Stars

Friday

Blackstone's in Yorkville, IL



Blackstone Bar and Grill is the best place to dine in Yorkville, Illinois.  I live in St. Charles, IL and travel to Yorkville for Blackstone’s every couple weeks.  It has a formal appearing d├ęcor, but is very casual in style—wear anything and the host/owner will serve you fine food at very reasonable prices.  Everything from fish to hamburgers is on the menu in this non-smoking establishment located on Veteran’s in Yorkville (about ½ mile from the well-traveled Route 47).  The parking is plentiful, but do take a leisurely approach to eating here at busy hours and holidays (e.g. Mother’s Day) because everyone locally knows this is the best restaurant within thirty miles in any direction for chef-prepared upscale food at very reasonable prices.  A favorite of my wife and I is the pot roast dinner, which has succulent pot roast, well-cooked (not underdone) in wine sauce that is out of this world; it’s served with garlic mashed potatoes and thin crispy and warm onion strips.  Enough to fill the hungriest of diners, it’s currently about $15…well worth it.  They have custom burgers with fries for $9, and soda with free refills for $2.  Bread is included with each meal, and a small side salad for $3 is with a vinegar-based house dressing that is tangy and wonderful.

The care that goes into the food preparation is evident, as this restaurant is the best outside of Chicagoland proper.  The owner is always present when we’ve been there—at least a dozen times—which makes a giant difference in the effort of the staff, the atmosphere in general.  The lighting is dim but not dark, the music is always just ideal (Frank Sinatra at the perfect volume to allow diner conversation), and the temperature is comfortable; many restaurants fail in atmosphere, which is as important as the meal.  The owner and family being “on-site”, often coming up to the tables to assure that all is well, is a giant step toward consistency of service.

The full bar is located on one side of the Blackstone, and has LCD TVs and boths as well as the huge bar, and it has an upscale atmosphere, open and high ceilings, that is not overwhelmed by TV noise; it is a place where one could conduct a business meeting, a celebration, or even dine alone in comfort.  When the restaurant is full, the overflow is seated at the bar, and we enjoy that area just as much.  There is literally not a bad table in the house.  The drink menu is extensive, everything from beers of the world to Cosmopolitans and martinis (even mini-martinis for $3! When you’re hitting the road). The restaurant’s official website linked below shows photos of the Blackstone, plus I snapped a couple on my point-and-shoot camera so you’d get an idea.

I’d like to point out that there is a restaurant, Stonefire, on Route 47 that has a similar name to Blackstone and is at a more central location on the “main drag”.  It’s far inferior to Blackstone in ambiance, service, and quality of food.  Stonefire reminds me of a fried fish fry with beer in a Wisconsin vacation spot, whereas Blackstone Grill and Pub is more like a modern, niche restaurant that one would find in a Chicagoland suburb (think Gevena, St. Charles, Glen Ellyn, etc.) or in downtown Chicago itself.  There is one thing about Blackstone in Yorkville, though, that is improved from Chicago: the prices.  A diner can have a wonderful and healthy meal of chicken, steak or fish, two sides, a garden salad and soda with tip for $26.  That’s pretty hard to come by in most restaurants of this caliber.  I do not personally know the owner, but will one day introduce myself.  As everyone in north central Illinois is aware, this is the place to eat for fine dining.  Enjoy!

Tuesday

Conklin Barn Theater, Goodfield, Illinois


Our Founder
Chaunce Conklin (June 9, 1926 - December 24, 1999)

Charles "Chaunce" Conklin, born in 1926 in Arrowsmith, began his professional career in 1950. He had been associated with the Barn Dinner Theater at Goodfield since 1975. Before that, he taught dance at Illinois Wesleyan University for 13 years and produced, directed and choreographed shows at the Illinois House, Lake Bloomington, Williams Towne Hall and Lexington. He had many years experience as a professional dancer. One of the benchmarks of his professional stage experience was as Will Parker with John Raitt in the touring company production of "Oklahoma!" He did summer stock in Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Florida and Illinois, appearing with stars Dorothy Collins, Gordon and Sheila McCrea, JoAnne Worley and Shelley Berman. Chaunce Conklin was much more than the founder of the Barn…he was director, manager, instructor, mentor, friend and inspiration. We are proud to continue the dream he had of a professional, resident theatre in central Illinois.

Check it out there: http://www.barn2.com/

Saturday

Golf

Anyone up for some frisbee golf?

Friday

Alligator Show, Ft. Lauderdale FL

This man wrestled this alligator for audience applause and tips in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2004.  He did not get eaten alive during the show we saw.

Wednesday

Tuesday

The Clock Tower Visible Over Old Town Pub

Photoshop Corrected Windmill


Here's the windmill from my post two days ago that has been Adobe Photoshop edited by my father.  About 15 modifictions, included light balance enhanced, cropping, removing tree shadow, enhancing windmill darkness, removing wire and pole, adding more flowers, etc.  Very talented Photoshopping!

Sunday

Mayhem 2010 Is History


The best show was Rob Zombie.  We had seats about like this video, which must have been posted by someone sitting near us.  The sound of the video is horrendous.  The sound live at the show is, well, horrendous.  Earplugs make it listenable. And of course, the Metal Mulisha motorcyclists were spot on!  A fun and very long (2PM to 1030PM, and we bagged on Korn after two songs) day.

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